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HomeNewsTennessee State Fire Marshal says Be Prepared, Home escape plans save lives

Tennessee State Fire Marshal says Be Prepared, Home escape plans save lives

Tennessee State Fire MarshalNashville, TN – If you woke up to a fire in your home, how much time do you think you would have to get to safety?

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one-third of American households estimate that it would take at least six minutes before a fire in their home became life-threatening. Unfortunately, the time available is often much less.

“Fire is unpredictable and moves faster than most people realize,” State Fire Marshal and Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said. “In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. Creating and practicing an escape plan can help you get out of your home quickly and safely during an emergency.”

According to an NFPA survey, only one of every three American households has developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. The State Fire Marshal’s Office urges all Tennesseans to take a few minutes today to create their plan. Those few minutes could be the difference between life and death.

When making your plan, consider the following:

Plan Your Escape

  • Draw a floor-plan of your home, marking two ways out of every room if possible.
  • Agree on an outside meeting place (something permanent, like a tree or light pole) a safe distance from the home where everyone should gather in an emergency.
  • Practice your home fire drill at night and during the day with everyone in your home, twice a year. Practice using different ways out.

Be Prepared

  • Install smoke alarms inside and outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home.
  • Test your smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year if they don’t have long-life batteries. Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Ensure everyone in the household knows the sound of the smoke alarm and what it signifies.
  • Ensure everyone in the household can unlock and open all doors and windows, even in the dark.
  • If a room has a window air conditioner, make sure there is still a second way out of the room. Windows with security bars, grills, and window guards should have emergency release devices. Make sure the occupants of the home can operate these.
  • Teach your children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them.

Get Out

  • If the smoke alarm sounds or fire is discovered in your home, get out fast.
  • Doors need to be tested before opening them. Use the back of your hand to see if the door is warm. If it is, use another escape route.
  • If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.
  • If you are trapped, close all doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors with clothes or towels to keep out smoke. Call the fire department, wait at a window and signal for help with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.

Stay Out

  • Once you are out, stay out. Don’t go back inside for any reason.
  • Call the fire department from your safe meeting place.
  • If people or pets are trapped, notify the fire department and let them handle the rescue efforts.

To highlight the importance of escape planning, the Oak Ridge Fire Department launched “Be Prepared: Home escape plans save lives,” a public service announcement detailing a local family’s harrowing fire experience.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


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